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Since the mid-90s, when advanced CAD (computer-aided design) systems were first used to help create crown materials, digital dentistry has developed rapidly. The latest digital dental hardware includes intra-oral scanning, dental sensor technology, robotics, CAD/CAM and 3D printing.

As a result, a lot of traditional manual dental processes have been, or are about to be, taken over by these emerging digital dental technologies, in the near future.

For example, the process of a traditional crowning procedure usually takes two appointments. It involves making moulds of your teeth, outsourcing manual crown fabrication to dental labs, and wearing a temporary crown in the meantime. Total time: approx. 2 weeks.

Now, there is the quicker option, of a single dental session, for a single crown restoration, utilising CAD and CAM (computer-aided manufacturing). How is this possible?

First, a digital scan of your mouth is imported directly into computer software that will generate the ideal 3D shape of your crown as a 3D file. This 3D file is then imported into a milling machine which carves the crown out of a ceramic block automatically. Then, all that your dentist needs to do, is – bond the newly fabricated crown to your prepared tooth. Total time: 2 hours.

And it doesn’t stop there. Scalpel, needles, use of anaesthetic, drills and sutures are gradually being replaced by lasers. Lasers result in less pain, discomfort and trauma during your dental procedure.

Digital dentistry will also assist your dentist. They won’t need to rely solely on steady hands and an eagle eye for dental procedures that have no margin for error.

Perhaps in the not too distant future, your check ups and dental treatment won’t even be performed by a human dentist, but by dental robots managed by dentists.